Post # 1
(Specifically by children, not by other adults.)
So Darling Husband and I are in disagreement about the use of Sir and Ma’am. I grew up in a family…in a culture, really…where using Sir or Ma’am is a definite sign of respect for your elders: “Yes Sir/No Sir” and “Yes Ma’am/No Ma’am”. So it’s completely normal to me, and I much prefer hearing it over the shudder-inducing response of “Yeah”.
We see my nieces often (6.5 and 11), and the older one especially is getting into a stage where she’s very rude to her mother. “Yeah, whatever” is her favorite response, and it makes me nuts. We lived with them for the better part of the year, and anytime I would hear her say that to her mother I would immediately correct her, usually without thinking: “That’s Yes Ma’am, and stop being rude”. She now uses Ma’am a lot more frequently, with both her mother and me. My SIL didn’t mind that I did this (she was raised the same way)–she prefers not being “yeah’ed”, and at her age my niece would much rather listen to her “cool aunt” than her “boring lame old Mom” (even though I’m barely younger than her mother and she’s my BFF).
ANYWAY, Darling Husband and I are usually on the same page with how we want to parent, but with this particular topic we might as well be in different books. He feels the “Sir and Ma’am” are insincere salutations at best, and under no circumstances does he ever want to hear it in our house. I think it’s respectful, and it’s how I was raised. So we’re at an impasse.
I’m not looking for solutions (although if you have a compromise I’d love to hear it!), more just curious how others feel about it.
Post # 3
I was raised to refer to my elders as sir and ma’am and I still do. It can be said insincerely but I think generally it’s respectful.
Post # 4
I could have written this haha. My SIL and Darling Husband were NOT raised to say ma’am or sir, and what irks me the most is they don’t say “Aunt/Uncle” like we should be Aunt Kati and Uncle Brian. SIL’s child (my neice) calls us Brian and Aunt Kati. I’m Aunt because I make her call me that, it’s respectful. As well as when she tells SIL “No!”..I want to yank her little but up and say “No Ma’am!” lmao
I will be Aunt & Ma’am and my children will afford other adults the same respect, even if they don’t mind being called by their first name. Thats just me though, Darling Husband doesn’t mind the lack of “Uncle” and doesn’t EVER say sir.
Post # 5
@Mrs Sarah McK: “Yeah, whatever” is rude…but if anybody EVER called me ma’am I would DESPISE it! In fact the guy at the post office kept calling me ma’am yesterday and it made my skin crawl! Maybe it’s just because I’m from the NYC area, but to me ma’am is something you say when you’re being snarky or something Southerners say to old people, or what they say in the military, and I am neither Southern nor old so it’s just weird to me, HAHA, and wouldn’t want my children acting like I’m their drill sergeant, I was personally brought up in a household where we respected our parents, sure, but were more friends with them… I once called my mom ma’am as a joke and she was SO angry it made her feel old, she was just like “My name is not ma’am, it’s mom…”
Post # 6
@BookishBelle: Lol, I was raised in the South! And Darling Husband was raised in Upstate New York, and holds pretty much the same opinion that you do! We’re trying to reconcile them.
Post # 7
I do not like the sir and mam. Not for me. And I do not get the “aunt so-and-so” either. I prefer that my nieces and nephews call my by my first name.
Post # 8
My son always refers to adults and people older than him as ma’m and sir. Its just how he has been raised so far. I ask “did you do your homework?” he says “yes ma’m”. His father asks “did you help your mother clean up?” he says “yes sir”. I was raised this way and cannot stand to hear “yea”. In the least, my son is expected to say “yes” not “yea”. its always YES not YEA. that for sure is a peeve of mine.
Post # 9
I would not want to be refered to by my children as ma’am. “Yes, whatever” is totally unacceptable, but ma’am can easily be used mockinly or insincerely. “ok”, “yes”, “yes mom”, “ok mom” would be fine with me…it’s about the tone used, not the actual words imo that convey respect.
Post # 10
My parents raised me to be respectful to adults, but I don’t think I’d ever called anyone ma’am or sir in my life–where I grew up in the Midwest, it just was not the norm.
When I worked in a school in rural Texas, teachers would demand children say “yes, ma’am” or “no, sir”. It was not optional! I think it can be very much a regional thing. I do think it’s polite, but I still never expect it from anyone–if anything, it usually feels kind of formal to me.
Post # 11
Being from the south I use sir and ma’am all the time! I even use Ma’am when talking to friends – not in a snarky way or incincere way…its just another term we use down here.
ETA: I did not call my parent Ma’am and Sir – usually just other people. I would just call them mom and dad.
Post # 12
Sounds like a southern thing to me. I’ve never said yes, ma’am or yes sir, except as a joke to a bossy friend or something. I would never expect my kids to call me that. I could see if their friends did but I wouldn’t expect it.
However, we do call our relatives Aunt or uncle. Even my parents’ friends were either aunt/uncle (even if no blood relation) or Mr. or Mrs. Now that we are all adults, sometimes they tell us to call them by their first names, but my siblings and I always seem to go back to Mr./Mrs. I don’t know what I will do with our kids because I can’t imagine calling any of MY friends Mr. or Mrs.
Post # 13
No. I will not teach my children to say sir and ma’am. I despise being called ma’am by anyone, ever, and I think they’re insincere ways of addressing someone. I am from the PNW, so I’m sure this is absolutely regional and cultural.
Post # 14
Maybe there’s a happy medium. For example, “yeah” could be off-limits, but maybe “Yes, Mommy” or “No, Aunt Jean” would be acceptable?
I wasn’t raised to say Sir/Ma’am. To me they sound old fashioned and artificial, but certainly much more pleasant than extremely casual/disrespectful forms of address. Still, in my opinion they impose a certain distance. When my siblings have children I’d much rather be Aunt (first name) than “Ma’am”.
Post # 15
My parents never wanted us to call THEM sir or ma’am (i think it was because my dad had just gotten out of the Navy and HATED being called sir then… )but they said it was always a good thing to do with other adults.. or at least refer to other adults as Mr. Smith etc.
Post # 16
Neither me or Darling Husband were raised with the ‘sir/ma’am’ mentality, but as he is now military, it is of course much more prevelant in this enviornment! I’m totally on board for teaching out kids to address adults that way – whenever a child addresses me that way I’m totally shocked, but in a GOOD way.